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Advert boost lifts INM to €53.3m profit

A BOOST in advertising revenue in new markets drove positive half-year results at Independent News & Media (INM).

The group reported a 39pc jump in pre-tax profits to €53.3m with an underlying 1pc increase in advertising.

Revenue was 7.8pc higher at €656.5m and when once-off gains are included, the pre-tax profit was listed at €63m.

INM, the publisher of this newspaper, has also reduced its debt by almost €66m to €978.5m, due to the sale of assets, including the London Independent newspaper titles and its stake in Indian publisher JPL.

Vincent Crowley, group chief operating officer, said the group's consistent aim to improve efficiency and tighten cost control delivered an improved operating performance, with a margin of 14.4pc, up 240bps on the first half of 2009.

"There was a modest circulation drop and we are doing better than our competitors," he said. "The margin increase was due to cost-cuts and an improvement in our market share. But despite the cost-cuts, we are investing in our products with the likes of the Dubliner in the Evening Herald and 24/7 in the regional papers," he added.





Revenue

Mr Crowley said that there was encouragement in the other markets of INM's reach including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

"The World Cup provided a boost for South Africa at a macro level, but it's still fairly soft," he said. "We are seeing new advertising revenue, picking up into positive territory in Australia and New Zealand."

CEO Gavin O'Reilly said that 2010 is off to a good start following a challenging 2009.

"It is most pleasing to note an underlying 1pc increase in advertising and an improving trendline occurring in all of our markets, albeit at different speeds," he said. "Positive year-on-year advertising trends, as well as solid performances in circulation and other revenues, have continued to improve through the opening months of the second half."

Mr O'Reilly said that profits for the second half of 2010 continue to be well ahead of last year, which gives the group confidence for the balance of 2010.

Operating profit in the "island of Ireland" division rose to €26.5m, up €0.2m on 2009, due to vigilant cost controls, which saw costs down €6.2m or 3.4pc. The Irish titles experienced a 12.6pc reduction in advertising revenues, mainly due to a fall in property advertising.

clairemurphy@herald.ie